Thousands demonstrate in Munich
Thousands demonstrate in Munich -- photo: C.J. Chambers

Tens of thousands of people in Germany demonstrated on Saturday against racism and police brutality following the killing of African American George Floyd in the U.S. city of Minneapolis.

According to police, around 15,000 participants at Alexanderplatz Square in Berlin alone, but only 1,500 participants had registered for the event, despite the minimal distance order during the COVID-19 pandemic. Police officers said on Twitter that the square was full and asked people to stop arriving.

Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed facing down on a Minneapolis street.

In Germany, many of the demonstrators in black clothes carried banners supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Organizers called for a silent demonstration lasting exactly 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time it took for Floyd to lose consciousness as the police officer knelt on his neck.

Berlin police said they made a number of arrests after a group of demonstrators threw bottles and stones at officers. One officer was injured. In a separate incident, a press photographer was hit in the head by a bottle, police added.

Around 25,000 demonstrators took to the streets in Munich, but according to the police, only 200 people had registered for the event. The meeting area was finally expanded to make more space to allow demonstrators to follow the social distancing order.

In Hamburg, the police said a total of 14,000 people joined the demonstrations in two almost simultaneous rallies at Jungfernstieg and Rathausmarkt, but only around 800 were allowed because of the anti-coronavirus measures.

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The Hamburg police had already declared their solidarity before the demonstrations. “We are by your side!” tweeted it before the rallies started. “Racism shouldn’t have a place in our society. We work every day so that everyone in Hamburg can feel safe.”

Other cities like Frankfurt, Mannheim and Stuttgart were also full of demonstrators on Saturday. Calls for “Silent Demos” had been published on the Internet, calling for “No to racism” and “Black Lives Matter.”